As GPs improve their identification of mental health problems in older people (NHS England- Mental Health in Older People), the role of live-in companions in the home becomes even more important.
According to Age UK (GB), ‘Nearly half of adults (7.7million) aged 55+ say they have experienced depression and around the same number (7.3 million) have suffered with anxiety, according to new YouGov research for the charity Age UK – revealing the scale of the mental health challenge facing older people in the UK today. The death of loved ones (36%) ill health of themselves (24%) and financial worries (27%) are the most common triggers for mental health problems, yet worryingly more than a third (35%) say they did not know where to go for help and support.’
Live-in care specialists need to be aware of potential trigger points for a deterioration in mental wellbeing, such as experiencing major change or loss, including:
- relationship and family problems
- money worries
- disability or poor health, including sight and hearing loss
- being a carer
- being on your own
- the time of year
Those who provide personal care for the elderly are well placed to implement protective factors, giving a helping hand to keep the blues at bay and get the most out of life.
Read these top tips for maintaining positive mental health in older people:
Take care of yourself
Plan time each day for a treat, such as going out for lunch, doing a crossword or sudoku, reading or listening to an audio book. Find out what your client likes to do and get planning!
Do the things that make you laugh and have fun
Make time to share aspects of day-to-day tasks, such as cooking or watching TV. Make it fun-have a laugh!
Get enough sleep
Give help managing sleep patterns and cutting down on caffeine in order to get a good night’s sleep. Set up a relaxing routine each evening.
Eat well and drink sensibly
Plan healthy meals and make sure there are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in the home. Manage alcohol consumption carefully, remembering that it is a depressant and interacts with certain medications.
Create structure to the day and set goals
Help your client establish routines, including setting daily and weekly goals. Balance is the key, so make sure you include the things that are important, such as seeing friends and keeping up with hobbies and interests.
Build in opportunities for movement throughout the day, such as helping with light housework, as well as facilitating appropriate exercise classes or videos. Remember, this is an ideal opportunity to get out and meet others.
Get some fresh air
Walking, gardening, going to the shops- it doesn’t matter what the reason is, getting some fresh air and having a change of scenery can instantly improve how we feel.
Talk about feelings
Setting aside time each day to talk makes it easier to discuss difficult or painful issues. And the earlier you deal with mental health problems the less likely they are to develop further. Knowing where to go for extra help is important and it’s always better to encourage a visit to the GP than let things be bottled up.
At Remarkable People, we are always keen to share good ideas- based and research and practical experience- to improve the quality of life for those that need extra support and those who provide it.